BOSTON – The second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team wiped out a three-run deficit after five innings by scoring all of its run over the final four innings and advancing to the finals of winners' bracket of the Little East Conference tournament with a 10-5 win over No. 4 Rhode Island College Thursday evening at Monan Park.
Eastern (25-14) faces No. 1 seed and defending tournament champion UMass Boston (32-8) Friday at 11 a.m., with the winner advancing to Saturday's championship round needing one win to claim the title. UMass Boston eliminated No. 3 University of Southern Maine, 6-1, earlier Thursday for its second tournament victory.
Ranked fifth nationally and first in New England, UMass swept Eastern, 13-7, 17-4, in the LEC openers for both teams March 31 at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.
A winner of a season-high five straight wins, Eastern erased a 3-1 deficit by scoring four runs in the top of the seventh on just one hit – senior catcher Merlyn Herrera's (La Yaquiza, DR) two-run game-tying single – three walks, a wild pitch and freshman right-fielder Anthony Stigler's (Mansfield) sacrifice fly that gave Eastern the lead for good, 4-3.
Leading 5-4, Eastern added four more runs in the eighth on an RBI triple by junior centerfielder Alexander White (West Hartford), junior third baseman Alex Parkos' (Meriden) RBI single and senior first baseman D.J. Scavone's (Auburn, MA) two-run single.
Junior lefty Nick Rascati (Wallingford) pitched a career-high seven innings in his sixth career start to improve to 3-0, while junior righty Cole Ogorzalek (Portland) struck out three over the final two innings to preserve t win. Ogorzalek took over for Rascati after Tyler Walsh connected for a leadoff home run in the eighth to make it 9-5.
Parkos, the MVP as a freshman of the 2016 conference tournament won by Eastern here, had three hits, drove in two runs and scored two; Scavone also drove in two runs and scored two and Herrera had two hits and two RBI and scored one run.
Scavone broke the New England career record of 1,292 with the fourth of his nine putouts.
Rhode Island (20-14), which had split a doubleheader with Eastern during the season, was coming off a 7-3 first-round win over Southern Maine. That game began Wednesday night but was postponed due to fog and completed beginning at 11 a.m. Thursday.